Posted: Tilanus Commodor @ Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:48 pm
Ho, ho, ho! It's Christmas time, you Napoleonic bunnies!
We already gifted you some essential updates in NE 2.1.7b, but since that was in November, consider this Modding Report our christmas gift to you!
First of all, we'd like to thank everyone who voted for us in the Mod Of The Year 2014 awards, even though the player choices for the Mod Of The Year 2014 aren't up yet (but the Editor's picks are - to which we do not count)
As always, the report will be split in two parts, one for the released NE2 and a smaller one for the unreleased NE3. To everybody who is new to that, I added an introduction about NE3 this time.
Let's start with some formal, but important words about two NE members: Since the modding report in last year, it can be said without any doubt that our last entries to the team - the honorable kangcliff and JRussell - possess the necessary coolness, hardiness and technical skill to live up to the philosophy of high quality, for which NE stands. Thus it's everything but a surprise they made it to NE core team. Kangcliff and JRussell are the calm guys you hardly see being around, but they are the secret stars who have done the tremendous work you have seen in the past and will see in the future in Napoleonic Era. I explicitly want to thank both of you for your splendid work and am proud to work with you! Thank you.
2014 is a very important year for us. To make you understand, I would like to recap 2013 and 2014 a bit by having a worthy look on the evolution of NE 2.1.7b.
It was in July 2013 when we released NE 2.1.5, which was the long overdue first step into the right direction, because it gathered and bundled all the publicly and internally available NE improvements that evolved since the release of NE2 in July 2009. NE 2.1.5 became the necessary working base for the planning, preparation and development of NE 2.1.6, NE 2.1.7 and NE 2.1.7b. This would take 1 more year, but would pay off significantly with 3 great releases in only a bit more than 1 month.
With NE 2.1.6/7 we finally managed to leave the era of uncomfortable, error-prone file archive installations and provide you with beautifully designed, highly AoE3-compatible, nicely working installers for Mac OS X and Windows instead. It is the time, where we finally departed from the gross of buggy, duplicate, insufficient NE maps and natives. It is the time, where we finally cut off the ballast of redundancy, imbalanced feature creep, sleepy AIs and broken textures from which the beautiful, highly valuable, well-designed core values of the mod were suffering. 2013-2014 is the time, in which we re-gained control over the chaos that was in NE and successfully put the mod on new solid ground.
You may say 2013 was the renaissance and 2014 the restoration of NE. What else can I say? Get ready to be baroqued in 2015!
Baroque is a nice key word for a transition, since this is a historical era that was characterized by the extreme contrast of its amazing beauty and merciless cruelty. These are also roughly the things we will focus on in the next version NE 2.2, beauty and realism. It's a version with which we intend to finally get rid of the remaining historical inaccuracies and anachronisms in our mod and raise the realism and credibility by replacing them with more appropriate conceptual and more beautiful audio-visual interpretations. This won't be everything of course (even though the sentence allows a lot of interpretations itself), since we always improve in multiple directions. So what will happen now is the announcement of things we will (or more likely: already) work at and plan to deliver in NE 2.2. Be prepared though as these leaks are likely to be sweeter than your Christmas candy.
Let's begin with a small appetizer. NE 2.2 will have new treasures, mercenaries & guardians. These will vary depending on the geographical location of our maps. So whether you play a map in Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Northern Africa or in Western Asia, the mercenaries, treasures and their guardians will change accordingly. In Europe you will face Marauders and Outlaw Landsknechts that you may fight with decent Irish Wild Geese mercenaries while in Arabia and Africa Bandit Archers, Bashi-Bozuk and Outlaw Janissaries may be expulsed by the military aid of the well-respected Cairo Janissaries.
Bandit Archers and outlaw Janissaries attacking an Ottoman town
Marauders and outlaw Landsknechts pillaging a village
Egyptian Cairo Janissaries can be hired on West Asian and North African maps
Irish Wild Geese can be hired on European maps
Among the treasures will also be European sea treasues for the first time. Also, the issues with treasures being misplaced on maps will be fixed too.
Originally NE had a some more European maps to offer. A few of them never made it to public, others got removed by us and both types of maps vanished for basically the same reason: They were not well-designed. NE 2.1.7b has around 7 European maps to offer, which are Alps, Alpine Pass, Black Forest, Finland, Malta, Rhine and Ural. In the last time we've been sketching and thinking a lot about new NE maps and we got to a point now, where feel comfortable enough for an announcement of new European NE maps, that will definitely come in NE 2.2, these are:
NE Italian Peninsula
We do have more maps planned of course, but I won't spoil too much here, will I?
There's just one more information regarding European maps that I would like drop here. It affects the European natives. You already know natives like Bavarians, Westphalians, Wurttembergers and Finns, which are - similar to Native american tribes - local powers. Let me just say, that this won't be the only type of minor civs that we have in mind for European maps. That is, because it is admittedly quite of a ridiculous thing to force ethnic European minorities such as Hugenottes or Catalans into the classical role of AoE3 natives. We'll be excited to read your guesses.
In the context of Random maps, I would like to point out that I updated our Random Maps page for you, where you can see a list of all NE maps including mini-map previews and map descriptions!
Random maps, check. Time for a technical interlude! GameRanger, for example. For those who don't know, GameRanger is a multiplayer platform for PC & Mac that supports the LAN game mode of ~1000 games. After the MS Gaming Zone was shut down for Age of Empires II, GameRanger became the new multiplayer platform of the AoE2 community. Even though NE works fine via ESO, nobody can tell how long this online multiplayer will still be run. GameRanger is also a blessing of an alternative for those, who really forgot their ESO login or lost their CD keys. So, NE has had talks with GameRanger about adding the Napoleonic Era mod to their line-up of supported games. We'd be in fairly good company, since other Age of Empires mods such as Age of Chivalry or Forgotten Empires are already there. =)
Another possibly interesting fact for the online veterans among you: I'll try to translate the balancing achievements of the FanPatch from ZutaZuta & Co. as well as picking up balancing suggestions from other experienced/professional players to Napoleonic Era, so that not only the NE singleplayer is like an expansion to AoE3, but also its multiplayer.
Speaking of LAN games: It is quite annoying and perfectly unnecessary to level your homecities if you just want to play some quick games against some friends, right? Nobody has the time to level them to max level and unlock all cards, but of course everyone would better want to use all features of a civ. So I think, we'll just code fully developed LAN Homecities.
After having released well-designed tools like our Mac and PC installer, we're already working on another tool, which all of you will appreciate and that we call Congress of Vienna. It basically is a workaround for the limit of playable civilizations by the computer (AI). The game code does not allow us to make the computer play with more than 14 civs; another annoying side effect is also that you can not create homecities for the civs that the computer can not play with. For the latter issue, we did so far always provide you with pre-created singleplayer homecities, so you could at least play with them yourself.
Our tool Congress of Vienna will fix this problem by allowing you to choose your enemies every time before you start your game.
Since we told you just about civs that could not be covered by the AI, let's now talk about civs that were never really covered by NE. Yes, let's talk about our dirty little secrets! The Asian & Native American civs in NE2.
I have 2 annoucements to make about them and I'll keep the explanations short:
Right now we think that we will *most likely* not improve the Native American civs, because we think that they neither fit our setting nor do we believe their history makes them credible major civs. This, by the way, also includes the Incan bonus civilization which do not intend to finish.
We will try to update the Asian civs since they are not only missing NE features like extended Saloon/Arsenal functions, University and equivalents to late game units, but also lack 'asianized' standard AoE3 features such as Spies or hospitals. Even though they do have been neglected and really miss stuff, they are still fairly good civs. So we'll have to check if there really is a need case by case.
Remember the beauty aspect that I mentioned when skipping over to NE 2.2? Let's get a lil more specific now. First of all, NE 2.2 will have new 3d models, mostly speaking of muskets, swords, hats and helmets. There are plenty of screenshots depicting these models already for a long time (see a few examples below). If you're wondering why these models have never been included so far, than that is because we want to ensure consistency in visual quality. You can hand each unit a nice musket model with many details on it, but if the unit itself keeps its ugly, mushy texture then the overall result will be bad and not convincing. Neither did we want to visually upgrade only a small selection of units while others would continue to use improvable assets.
Musket & Tricorner models
What did we do once we realized our models look better than many original units? Of course, we started to rework the unit designs. The new 3d models, however, were not the main reason for this. Mostly the original unit designs were too medieval and the textures had a quality that couldn't live up to the NE standards. In consequence the AoE3 units often felt clumsy and not just because of their low-res textures and sometimes weird model compositions, but also because of questionable animation choices.
The dimension in which these units (and also buildings) were reworked varies. For example, our new Dragoon looks completely different, so does the Saloon including its name, but the Pikeman might just get a few details added here and there. I may point out, that we consider this a nice extra. It wasn't on our original agenda for NE2, but we'll surely care enough to leave this construction site in a state that everybody can live with.
And nooooow ladies and gentlemen. I'm very proud to present you a Tilanus & JRussell co-production: The redesign of all Royal Guard & Church tech units! - Wait, did I say all? Well. It's still 2014 aaand let's be realistic, the release of NE 2.2 somewhere in the future. But since it's Christmas, we'll already show you a selection of reworked RG and Church tech units (list is incomplete!) *and* additionally reveal some of our current ideas for civ updates:
Church tech unit: Hungarian Grenadier (Grenadier) Plans: Rework the Grenzer techs
Royal Guard: Scots Grey (Hussar)
Royal Guard: Redcoat (Musketeer)
Plans: Redesign Longbowmen to Yeomen
Royal Guard: Blauuwe Garde (Halberdier)
Plans: Replace Geus
Royal Guard: Voltigeur (Skirmisher)
Royal Guard: Frei-Jäger (Skirmisher)
Royal Guard: Genovese (Crossbowman)
Church tech unit: Legionario (Rodelero)
Plans: Replace/rework Utili & Condottiero
Royal Guard: Humbaraci (Grenadier)
Church tech unit: Solak (Longbowman)
Royal Guard: Winged Hussar (Hussar)
Royal Guard: Lipka Tatar (Lisowczyk)
Royal Guard: Brunswick Jaeger (Skirmisher)
Royal Guard: Flügelgrenadier (Leibgarde)
Plans: Transform Schütze into Leibgarde, replace Teutonic Knight
Royal Guard: Dragão da Legião (Dragoon)
Royal Guard: Mosqueteiro da Legião (Musketeer)
Church tech unit: Guarda de Emperador (Lancer)
Church tech unit: Estremoz Field Gun (Falconet)
Royal Guard: Dvoryanin (Cavalry Archer)
Plans: Considering Infantry RG and heavy cavalry replacing Oprichnik
Royal Guard: Blandengue (Lancer)
Royal Guard: Infante de Marina (Arquebusier)
Royal Guard: Walloon Guard (Musketeer)
Church tech unit: Alabardero del Rey (Halberdier)
Plans: Reworking Rodelero stats
Church tech unit: Mörnerska (Hussar)
Plans: Boni revamp regarding Royal Guards and Wood production (Torps)
Royal Guard: Cent-Suisse (Reislaufer)
Plans: building mobility revamp, population growth
Is this everything? No, not yet. (And I told you already in the beginning this would be sweeter than your christmas candy! ^^) Since we have fully arrived in the civilization section of this Modding Report already, this seems now like a good place to resolve some outrageous rumours. Some freaks really asserted we'd be working on a Persian & Danish civilization for NE2. Well, what I can I say. It's true.
Danish-Persian Xmas Spoiler:
Oh, and yet another christmas box, suupriiiiiise!
DANISH Defensive naval civ
The Danish were originally planned for NE3 only. However, being a classical European civ of that time, we thought they should be comparably easy to realize also in NE2. In past modding reports we have already presented our plans and work for the NE3 Danish civ. Even though NE2 and NE3 are quite different, many design variables stay the same, so I'll drop this the key facts right here:
Leader: Christian IV.
Explorer: Tycho Brahe (possibly)
Building Set: Western European
Royal Guards (planned): Dragoon, Uhlan
Unique units (types): Skirmisher, Halberdier, Mounted Healer, Monitor
What is this confusing NE3? An introduction for our new fans
You may have stumbled upon this term a few times already, either in this report or outside in any of our screenshot galleries. It may be good to understand that Napoleonic Era isn't just one mod, but a mod series. NE1 was made for Age of Empires 3 without the expansions and exists roughly since a few months after the release of AoE3 in 2005. NE2 was released in 2009 for AoE3 and both of its expansions and is the current part of the Napoleonic Era mod series. So, NE3 is pretty much the future.
With NE3 we intend to make everything better we don't deem possible - or worth to be made - in NE2 anymore. While NE2 expands AoE3, NE3 will rework AoE3 in the tradition of the former Age of Empires games while trying to preserve all the AoE3 innovations that we think are worth to be kept. So, NE2 to NE3 will be a shift from an expansion mod to a (total) conversion mod. What will be different? Well, let's try to keep it short by pulling out just a few major changes we planned:
New artillery & sea combat system
More modern/less archaic standard units in a more streamlined civ setup spiced up by shared elite units (i.e. Commanders, Riflemen, ..)
Completely reworked civs with greater historical depth
Reworked civ, combat and map balance, greatly considering the lessons learnt from AoE3 multiplayer (and other multiplayers)
New game roles and interpretations for many known variables such as Mercenaries, Minutemen (Militia), Trading Posts, and 'Minor' Civs, unique units and homecities
Increased immersion of game environment
Great influence from the look & feel from former Age of Empires titles
So, that's all a bit abstract for most, but since NE3 has neither been made nor playtested to a degree, where more things can be announced as facts, this list works best for the moment.
However, there is one thing we've been working on before we decided to put more efforts into polishing NE2, which is a new villager system. Don't worry, we won't be splitting up the eco with dozens of additional villager units, but we'll keep it all fixed in one.
The idea is that Settlers will upgrade like military units and exist in three stages, which are Serf → Peasant → Citizen. There can be unique upgrades per civ, both visually and statistically. Part of the civ boni in NE3 will be the stages at which the civs start. Civs starting with Serfs and possibly having upgrades available in a later age than other civs have more vulnerable settlers and are hence easier to raid.
These upgrades have no impact on gather rates or unit costs.
We've already been making a few designs:
________________________________________________________________________ PERSONAL REVIEWFinally done with this report - and soon with 2014. It was a strenuous, hard year (at least for me) - and we're all off with better times!
Nonetheless, as mentioned in the beginning of the report, we're feeling really good with the current release, which is almost bug-free. And we know that is no coincidence. See ya next year after the age up to 2015 and thanks again for your support!
Your awesome support made Napoleonic Era already count to the top 100 mods of 2014 out of 10.000 (!) other nominated mods. In this second, final voting phase the winner will be determined only from the top 100. Our opponents aren't nobodies, so we will need all of your awesome support again!
Keep in mind, this is an exceptional chance: Napoleonic Era could be the first Age of Empires mod ever to win that trophy. So please share & tell everybody!
Posted: Tilanus Commodor @ Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:18 am
The NE team asks you for a little favor: Please vote for Napoleonic Era on ModDB to help us win the Mod Of The Year 2014 Award! Also, don't forget to spread the word to everyone whom you could get to vote as well. If it has to be, even your grandma!
Posted: Tilanus Commodor @ Fri Nov 21, 2014 9:56 am
it's just been a week since the last release of NE 2.1.7, which provided Mac users for the first time with an installer and did rebalance and update a couple of civs too (i.e. the Germans). Due to a major visual bug (caused by bad file packing) we decided to quickly re-release a fixed version (and not a patch).
Therefore NE 2.1.7b will stabilize the recently released NE 2.1.7. Apart from fixing the major visual bug, this version also adds a new voice set for Polish and some new graphics for Americans.
You can download NE 2.1.7b and read the updated release notes on our downloads page:
(click to open download page)
NE 2.1.7b requires the latest AoE3 patches, but no prior NE installations.
You can install NE 2.1.7b over your NE if you did not install versions earlier than NE 2.1.6.
Otherwise please install NE over an umodded and patched AoE3.
And now we will crawl back into our Skype chatrooms, working documents and surround us with code, sketches and graphics and prepare the next big thing.
Happy Napoleonic gaming!
The NE Team
(Tilanus Commodor, kangcliff, JRussell, Da Bozz & Ca Putt)